China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced on Wednesday that a total of 274 million domestic trips were made nationwide during the Labor Day holiday in 2023, a year-on-year increase of 70.83 percent, surpassing the 2019 level for the same holiday.
During the holiday, domestic tourism revenue amounted to 148.056 billion yuan (around $21.42 billion), a year-on-year increase of 128.90 percent, said the ministry.
This can be seen as a turning point in China's tourism sector. Travel-hungry citizens started to head for tourist attractions across the country on the eve of the holiday.
The long-lost hustling and bustling is back. Observers believed the lucrative Labor Day holiday added fuel to the strong momentum of China's tourism recovery.
Data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism shows that more than 1.2 billion domestic trips were made in the first quarter, bringing in 1.3 trillion yuan of tourism revenue, up 46.5 percent and 69.5 percent year on year, respectively.
With the pent-up demand for travel greatly unleashed, many cities that were once little known became new tourist destinations, some of which are referred to as "emerging online celebrity cities."
Zibo City in east China's Shandong Province has become a smash hit since March, with hundreds of thousands of foodies flocking there for the local-specialty barbecue.
It is estimated that the city with a population of about 4.7 million will receive approximately 120,000 tourist visits during the Labor Day holiday, a formidable year-on-year surge of 2,000 percent.
A central leadership meeting on economic work held on the eve of the holiday stressed the need to improve the country's consumption environment and promote services consumption in the culture and tourism sector.
During the holiday, China's tourism authorities took a spate of measures to ensure the sound operations of tourist attractions and improve the tourist experience, including strengthening the supervision of food safety, limiting passenger flows and controlling price caps.
The tourism recovery also stimulated outbound international trips during the holiday. Data from Alibaba's travel branch Fliggy shows that orders for outbound trips during the holiday increased by 200 percent compared to this year's Spring Festival.
According to a blue paper on China's tourism economy recently released by the China Tourism Academy, approximately 4.55 billion domestic tourist trips will be made this year, a 73-percent increase from 2022. It also predicts that more than 90 million inbound and outbound trips will be made to China this year.